Smackdown vs Raw 2010 – hands-on

As we sat down to see Smackdown vs Raw 2010 for the first time in L.A. during Summerslam weekend, we were skeptical. This had been the longest we could remember going without seeing a given year’s Smackdown before its release, which will be on Oct. 20. On top of that, while the previous year’s entry was pretty good, it offered little in the way of true innovation. But when the presentation for SvR 2010 began, so did the rollout for a battle royal’s worth of improvements, some of which could even be called revolutionary for the wrestling genre.

Paramount in the presentation was the announcement of an online Smackdown Community launching with the title. Working a bit like LittleBigPlanet, it’s a way for all Smackdown players to share their created content with one another. Whether it's a created wrestler, finishing move or story (we'll get to that later), they can now be uploaded and downloaded all over the world. You can search by keywords for content, and it's all rated by the community, so hopefully the best can rise to the top.

For all the hardcore WWE fans, the community features will be a giant enhancement. For as long as there have been create-a-wrestler (CAW) modes, there have been some very creative fans making the perfect characters in a vacuum, with only their close friends able to share in playing as the perfect Great Muta creation. Now other players won't have to suffer through online CAW guides to recreate them, and instead can just download the top-rated one to their system. It works the same with finishers and stories as well.

That's the other major addition this year: Story Designer mode, where you can make your own stories for the first time. Now you can be the event booker/writer, as you set-up entire cards, matches and their stipulations, and all the story events in between. While making the cutscenes, you write text to fill in the conversations, either stick with existing camera set-ups or move the cam however you want through the scene, and choose reactions and events on the fly. It can get incredibly deep, as you can plan out just one Raw or up to two years of thrice-weekly shows and monthly pay-per-views, match-by-match and scene-by-scene.

Just imagining how much could be done in this mode is mind-boggling. You could remake the previous night’s event, or plan out the upcoming pay-per-view. You could intricately remake entire feuds, such as Stone Cold's chase for the title in 1997-98. Or the truly creative could make the story decisions they wish Vince McMahon would have made with original plots. This can all be planned out for the aforementioned two years’ worth of stories, with hundreds of matches and vignettes to fill that time. And when something this deep can be shared with all the other players via download in the community, the time you can lose to Smackdown seems virtually endless now.

Above: The logo creator

Smaller bits have been added to the older creation modes, including 30 percent more moves in create-a-finisher and a ton of new items to create-a-wrestler, and there’s an overall improvement in how CAWs appear compared to the real wrestlers. A useful addition to CAW is the new paint tool, which enables artists to create their own logos and put them on clothes or the wrestler’s skin. It was even suggested during the conference that it could be used to make some of your favorite superheroes, without all those annoying copyrights to navigate through. Another Smackdown first is the chance to alter all the existing Superstars' looks, which was demonstrated with the creation of an all-pink Undertaker.

Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.